Timing would be good for Davante Adams' return

Packers’ offense vs. Buccaneers’ defense a marquee matchup

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QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams

GREEN BAY – It's hard to say exactly how the Packers' offense can improve considering what it's produced through the first four games.

But if top receiver Davante Adams can make anything better after missing the past 2½ games with a hamstring injury, he welcomes the responsibility.

"I'll always just put it on the wideout room," Adams said Wednesday. "I try and put as much on my back. The team goes as we go is just kind of how you put that onus on yourself to take care of business."

There's been no declaration made or guarantee that Adams is playing Sunday at Tampa Bay, but all signs are pointing that direction. He was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, a little more than a week after he was expecting to play in the Monday night game vs. Atlanta but was held out, frustratingly so for him.

The bye week gave him some extra healing time, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers sounds like he's expecting Adams to return, discussing his own excitement for two offensive veterans – tight end Marcedes Lewis being the other – to be back in action this week.

"Just getting those guys back in the fold is really, really important for us because they infuse our squad with a lot of confidence and allows other guys, I think, to play a little more free knowing we've got '17' and '89' back," Rodgers said.

This is certainly an all-hands-on-deck kind of matchup against a Buccaneers' defense that ranks among the league's best.

It's not quite the unstoppable force against the immovable object, but the Green Bay offense against the Tampa Bay defense will be the toughest challenge to date for both units.

By the numbers, the Packers rank second in the league in total yards (fifth in rushing, third in passing), third in first downs, first in sack rate, and first in points. The Bucs rank second in yards allowed (first in rushing, 16th in passing), second in first downs, fifth in sack rate, and eighth in points.

The biggest changes for Sunday will be the Packers (presumably) getting Adams back while the Buccaneers will be replacing defensive tackle Vita Vea, who broke his leg last Thursday vs. the Bears and will miss the rest of the season.

Rodgers said he expects the Buccaneers to be watching closely how Adams looks running early in the game and select a coverage approach accordingly.

"A lot of times teams just play their defense and trust the process that they go through to not try and leave him singled up a whole lot," Rodgers said. "But I'm sure they'll have a plan for him. They have to."

Meanwhile, the Packers will be planning for the potential array of pressure looks Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could throw at them.

The Bucs' veteran defensive front – a plenty formidable group without Vea that includes 2019 NFL sack leader Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Lavonte David, along with a rising star at linebacker in Devin White – picked up where it left off last year but now has the offensive complement on the other side, with QB Tom Brady, to be a playoff contender.

Reacting to pressure calls falls on everyone, including the linemen and backs, who must communicate protection duties, and the receivers, who have to know the hot reads. With the bulk of the Packers' receivers so young, the value of Adams' experience can't be oversold in this setting.

"If I see a bunch of guys up on the line, (I'm) just having my antennas up for different looks, different checks that Aaron may make," Adams said.

Pierre-Paul and Barrett have combined for seven of the Bucs' 17 sacks thus far, with five other players recording two apiece. Rodgers suggested it's a bit of a mischaracterization to say Bowles sends all-out blitzes frequently. The Packers QB sees the tendency to pressure with five and play different coverages behind it.

The biggest test of Green Bay's hot start awaits.

"We've got to be fundamentally sound," said four-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, whose primary assignment likely will be Pierre-Paul. "We have to be on the same page. It's going to take all 11 of us to have that consistent timing both in the run and the pass.

"There's going to be a lot of pressure. They're going to try to get after our quarterback. It's going to be a good matchup."

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